Hopi Prophecy and the End of the Fourth World – Part I
by Gary David
Legacy of Prophecy
More than any other tribe in North America, the Hopi Indians have developed according to the dictates and demands of what may be called a legacy of prophecy. The predictions of the life to come do not merely pertain to the Hopi themselves but deal with impending events on a global scale. These prophecies began to be made public shortly before the mid-20th century. The Hopi are basically an aggregation of clans that came together at the “center-point” (Tuuwanasavi) in northern Arizona during the course of their migrations. Because they are not a monolithic tribe, the sources of their prophecies are fragmentary and multifarious. Part of the lack of narrative clarity also has to do with the secretive nature of the Hopi. These isolated, sedentary farmers living in unpretentious pueblos (basically stone apartment buildings) on the high desert of the American Southwest have looked into the future from their kivas (subterranean, communal prayer-chambers) and have seen some rather disturbing scenarios. Many times they simply do not wish to share these visions with the outside world. Considering the history of exploitation and genocide of Native Americans in general, this is understandable.
Like the Maya, among whom the Hopi once lived and with whom they later traded, the Hopi conceptualize the cycles of time as world-ages. The Hopi believe that we have suffered three previous world cataclysms. The First World was destroyed by fire—a comet, asteroid strike, or a number of volcanic eruptions. The Second World was destroyed by ice—a great Ice Age. As recorded by many cultures around the globe, a tremendous deluge destroyed the Third World. These three global destructions were not the result of merely random earth changes or astrophysical phenomena but of humankind’s disregard both for Mother Earth and for the spiritual dictates of the Creator. In other words, cataclysmic events in the natural world are causally connected to collective transgressions, or negatives human actions.
Unlike the Maya, the Hopi are rarely specific about the dates for the shifting of these ages. It has been said that the Maya were masters of time, whereas the Hopi are masters of space. The verb tenses here are deliberate, given that the Maya no longer follow the Long Count calendar of 394-year cycles. Instead they now use the Tzolk’in calender of 260 days—an amazingly complex system nonetheless. Living on their three primary mesas, the Hopi continue to perform a series of annual sacred rituals within their ceremonial cycle in order to keep not just themselves but rather the whole world in balance.
As time goes by, this task is increasingly difficult because our contemporary lifestyle, with its technological gadgetry and unseemly allurements, continues to erode traditional ways of life and ancestral Hopi values. Fewer and fewer young Hopis are learning their indigenous language, customs, and ceremonies. More youth are leaving Hopi-land to seek employment in urban areas. Those that do stay on the reservation are confronted with intra-tribal squabbles and, much worse, with high rates of alcoholism and increasingly available lethal street drugs. The dire signs of a Native American version of the “End Times” are everywhere.
Many Hopi spiritual elders (singular, kikmongwi) claim that we are living in the final days of the Fourth World. For more than 60 years, different Hopis have predicted various Earth changes that signal the conclusion of the current age and the onset of the Fifth World. In 1970, Dan Katchongva, Sun Clan leader from the village of Hotevilla, who died at age 112, spoke about deteriorating conditions of our time:
“We have teachings and prophecies informing us that we must be alert for the signs and omens which will come about to give us courage and strength to stand on our beliefs. Blood will flow. Our hair and our clothing will be scattered upon the earth. Nature will speak to us with its mighty breath of wind. There will be earthquakes and floods causing great disasters, changes in the seasons and in the weather, disappearance of wildlife, and famine in different forms. There will be gradual corruption and confusion among the leaders and the people all over the world, and wars will come about like powerful winds. All of this has been planned from the beginning of creation.”
Another spiritual elder from the same Third Mesa village, David Monongye, who may have lived even longer than Grandfather Dan, had warned: “When earthquakes, floods, hailstorms, drought, and famine will be the life of every day, the time will have then come for [either] the return to the true path, or going the zig-zag way.”
The “zig-zag way” refers to a line found on Prophecy Rock, a panel of ancestral Hopi petroglyphs (rock carvings) in northern Arizona. The zig-zag is the upper of two parallel lines. It supposedly represents the path of the Two-Hearts, who are wreaking havoc on our Earth Mother and living contrary to ecological principles and the laws of Nature. The lower line, on the other hand, is the path of the One-Hearts, who are close to soil and the growth of corn, beans, squash—that is, adhering to the true Hopi way. The upper path is divorced from the natural world and totally immersed in the synthetic, manufactured reality of iPhones and Xbox 360s. In essence, it is a lifestyle that the Hopi call koyaanisqatsi, which means “world out of balance,” or “life of moral corruption and turmoil (regarding a group).” The lower way, rooted in earth-based rhythms, finds solace and spiritual sustenance from corn pollen, sunlight, soaking rains, and vast desert vistas—a life in accordance with the Creator or the Great Spirit.
This large sandstone panel facing due east was incised in ancient times with various arcane symbols. The petroglyphs were carved on the vertical surface of the boulder. (Caveat lector: What follows are merely possible interpretations. They are by no means an official Hopi reading of the symbology, nor are they sanctioned by the Hopi themselves.) The figure at the lower-left is Masau’u (Masaaw), the Hopi god of death, fire, and the earthly plane. He carries a bow with his arrow pointing to the underworld (previous Third World). His left hand holds the path to the current Fourth World. The circle to the right represents the Earth or rim of the horizon. The Christian cross signifies the Spanish (Catholic) incursion of Hopi-land. The square represents a village, pueblo, plaza, or the Hopi territory.
The two parallel lines positioned obliquely refer to the two life-paths humankind may take at the end of the current Fourth World. As previously mentioned, the upper line is the path of the Two-Hearts. On this line are four figures with enjoined hands, the last figure appearing to have two heads (hearts?). This line ends in a zig-zag up in the air. The lower line is the path of the One-Hearts. Resting on this line from left to right, are three circles, which represent three “world shakings,” or three world wars. To the right of the last circle are a corn stalk and a Hopi man tending corn. This line extends to the right across another section of the rock, whereas the upper line is not extended. The line on the right between the two parallel lines and perpendicular to them represents the last chance the Two-Hearts have to descend to the true path on the lower line.
Grandfather Martin Gashweseoma from the Fire Clan of the Hotevilla village on Third Mesa stated to a group of us in front of Prophecy Rock during the summer of 2011 that this lower line represented “everlasting life” and the rising sun. Indeed, I did a quick compass-check of the extended lower line (see upper-right of the graphic) and found that if one stood at that point with his/her back to the rock, one would directly face the spot on the horizon where the sun rises on the summer solstice. The Hopi say that at this time Taawa, the sun god, is the strongest and resides in his Taawaki, or “summer house.”
Signs that the Fourth World Is Winding Down
Some other predictions made public by various Hopi elders in the 20th century include the possibility of the Fourth World’s demise. These involve an increasingly erratic climate and a few specific signals or signs of social and political imbalance. The prophesized Earth changes include earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, record flooding, wildfires, droughts, and famines. Pandemics are currently on the minds of many. The 2014 ebola virus epidemic in West Africa has already claimed over 5,000 victims as of the end of October, 2014. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projects as many as 1.4 million fatalities by January of 2015, although this may be a worst-case scenario.
The Hopi also predicted a number of technological changes that would signal the end of the Fourth World. Long before it happened, the elders said a “gourd of ashes” would fall on the Earth. This refers, of course, to nuclear explosions—first the atomic test blast at Trinity Site in New Mexico, then the dual holocausts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and finally the other hydrogen bomb tests on Pacific atolls and in the American Southwest (with their carcinogenic effects on the “down-winders.” Hopi prophecies include the fact that people would ride in “horseless wagons” on “black ribbons” (vehicles on asphalt). In addition, aerial vehicles would travel “roads in the heavens” (pathways in the sky, either benign contrails or deleterious “chemtrails”). The Hopi also stated that one of the final signs is that People would be “living in the sky” (International Space Station).
Hopi elders also foresaw numerous social changes. They said that Hopi delegates would travel at four different times to the “House of Mica” (the U.N. building in New York), but each time their pleas for peace will be ignored. The socially conservative Hopi culture also believed that the end of the Fourth World would be signaled by women starting to wear men’s clothing (Women’s Liberation Movement, etc.). Finally, a Hopi friend of mine in his 50s said that his grandfather had predicted in the 1960s what seems to refer to 9/1l/2001. He said that an event would happen when America was sleeping, and the country would wake up to a thunderous eruption of war.
We must remember that Hopi prophecies are not contemporary readings of world events, but statements made centuries or perhaps millennia ago. These disturbing commentaries on our current state of global affairs were simply relayed through the generations to the present via the Hopi oral tradition, with very few alterations made in the process.
Hopi Prophecy and the End of the Fourth World Part II
by Gary David
The Nine Signs of White Feather’s Prophecies
In the summer of 1958 a minister named David Young was driving across the Four Corners region of the U.S. when he picked up an old Hopi man named White Feather by the side of the road. This spiritual elder of the Bear Clan (the most sacred of all the Hopi clans) confessed that all his sons were dead and that the Hopi ceremonial cycle was slowly becoming extinct. After sensing Reverend Young was trustworthy, he decided to pass along nine primary Hopi prophecies that together would herald the destruction of the Fourth World.
White Feather stated that these “Nine Signs” would mean that the Fourth World was about to come to a close. He said that his ancestors had foretold the coming of all of the following events, long before they arrived:
- White-skinned people would take possession of the land and carry thunder-sticks that strike like lightning (rifles and pistols)
- Spinning wheels with voices in them would come (whirring wagon wheels and/or whining car tires; or, alternately, the spinning of records and CDs)
- Huge, strange beasts would appear, looking somewhat like buffalo but with long horns (cattle)
- “Snakes of iron” would spread across the land (railroads)
- “A giant spider web” would crisscross the land (telegraph, telephone, power lines, and now the Internet—the World Wide Web)
- “Rivers of stone that make pictures in the sun” would crisscross Hopi-land (concrete highways in the desert with their mirages of water)
- The ocean would turn black and all the living things in it would die (summer 2010, Gulf oil spill)
- Young people with long hair would come to Hopi-land to learn Native ways (the counter-culture revolution of the late 1960s and early 1970s)
- A “dwelling place in the heavens” would crash to earth, thereby producing a brilliant blue star (Sakwa Sohu). The Blue Star Kachina would remove his mask in the village plaza during a sacred kachina dance. After that, all Hopi ceremonies would cease entirely.
(Note: Kachinas—also spelled katsinam, plural, and katsina, singular—are spirit messengers between the world of the gods and the world of humans. They are analogous to angels in the Christian religion.) All these portents are not strictly chronological, but the final sign will certainly conclude the series and may trigger the end of the Fourth World.
- Warfare With Those Who Possessed the First Light of Wisdom
White Feather furthermore said that the conclusion of the Fourth World would be accompanied by great wars and mass destruction. He believed this would especially occur in the lands where the “first light of wisdom” appeared—perhaps the Middle East or the Near East. Fiery columns of smoke would rise, which might remind us of either the surrealistic scene of Sadam Hussein setting his oil wells on fire during the first Gulf War or the “Shock and Awe” campaign of the subsequent, disastrous Iraq War. Remember, this humble Hopi man was talking in 1958.
“These are the Signs that great destruction is coming. The world shall rock to and fro. The white man will battle against other people in other lands—with those who possessed the first light of wisdom. [italics added] There will be many columns of smoke and fire such as White Feather has seen the white man make in the deserts not far from here. Only those which come will cause disease and a great dying. Many of my people, understanding the prophecies, shall be safe. Those who stay and live in the places of my people also shall be safe.”
Thus, the territory in northern Arizona in the vicinity of the Hopi reservation will apparently be a safe haven during the transition between the end of the Fourth World and the beginning of the Fifth. White Feather’s account is corroborated by a passage from the classic Book of the Hopi, written by Frank Waters and Oswald White Bear Fredericks, published in 1963. “World War III will be started by those peoples who first received the light [the divine wisdom or intelligence] in the other old countries [India, China, Egypt, Palestine, Africa]. The United States will be destroyed, land and people, by atomic bombs and radioactivity. Only the Hopis and their homeland will be preserved as an oasis to which refugees will flee.” (The brackets in this quotation were inserted by the author Frank Waters.)
We need not be reminded of the early 2011 turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East known as the “Arab Spring.” Mass protests and unrest resulted in the deaths of innocent people who sought to throw off the yoke of dictatorship, military rule, or repressive theocracies. Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, and Syria may be the lands with the “first light of wisdom,” to which the Hopi elder referred more than a half century ago. The complexities of the various factions and issues unfortunately preclude any easy political or diplomatic answers or actions.
Meanwhile the apocalyptic strife continues to occur right before our eyes, from the Israel/Palestinian war in the summer of 2014 to the rise of IS (Islamic State, or ISIL). Regarding the latter group, this “al Qaeda-on-steroids” is currently terrorizing whole populations in Syria and Iraq as it sends shockwaves and horror around the world with videotaped beheadings of Westerners posted on the Internet. The human suffering, mass executions, and deplorable hunger that we see on our TVs and computer screens naturally makes us recoil in despair. It is as if we are paralyzed by what someone has called “fear porn.” To make matters worse, a small minority of the general populace has assumed the role of fear monger, who interprets every major political or social event with some sort of conspiracy theory, some “false flag” operation. These purveyors of paranoia believe that nefarious truths lurk behind every headline, keeping many of us in a perpetual state of anxiety.
Universal Trial by Fire
On the other hand, let’s not pretend to be New Age Pollyannas. The Hopi basically believe that humankind must go through a very rough period called the Purification—a kind of universal trial by fire. This ordeal will essentially separate the wheat from the chaff, or more pertinent to the Hopi, the spiritual corn (maize) from the materialistic stalk. During this dire time in history, I believe that we must each ask ourselves one fundamental question: Are we truly living by the prescribed mandates and life-engendering processes of the Creator? (If indeed we conceive of a supreme deity at all?)
So the end of the Fourth World will be hard—harder for some than for others. Another spiritual elder named Dan Evehema, also from the village of Hotevilla and also over one hundred years old when he passed on, talked about the cosmic results of what today we call “income inequality.” He claimed that the Day of Purification (the Apocalypse?) would
“…culminate either in total rebirth or total annihilation—we don’t know which. But the choice is yours, war and natural catastrophe may
be involved. The degree of violence will be determined by the degree of inequity caused among peoples of the world and in balance with nature. In this crisis rich and poor will be forced to struggle as equals in order to survive.”
Most Hopi people ultimately believe, however, that this transition between world-ages will not mean the total “end of the world ” as we know it, but rather the beginning of what they call the Fifth World—a time of peace for humanity and pristine harmony with Mother Nature. Leaning more toward the possibility of renaissance (literally, rebirth) and regeneration rather than annihilation and desolation, Grandfather Monongye describes this Purification and its ultimate outcome.
“It will then open our hearts and minds when a new age is about to be, with people renewed and purified through fire. It will be like the pure gold of a new day. But fire is red, and when it takes command, it will set the forces of nature in motion. We will then know purification day has come. We all are the caretakers of life. The balance of nature depends on us. The world will be what we want it to be.”
Petroglyphs in northern Arizona depicting the Hopi Creator in a prayer stance with upraised palms. This is superimposed with a cloud symbol and a snake symbol. In addition to these sacred elements, the graffiti indicates that we also live in a profane world.
Published with permission from the author, Gary A. David. Copyright © 2015 Gary A. David. All rights reserved.
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